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Mammal Conservation and Plague Ecology Field Technicians - South Dakota and California

U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Work day stipend
Closing date
Jun 8, 2023

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Academic / Research
Conservation science
Job Level
Entry level
Salary Type
Stipend/Per Diem/Living Allowance
Employment Type

Job Details

Plague, a flea-borne disease of mammals, was introduced to the United States in the early 1900s and spread >2,000 km in 40 years, establishing residency in 17 western States. Plague has joined the lengthening list of anthropogenic invaders that require intervention for wildlife conservation and human health. In collaboration with government and NGO partners, we are studying the ecology of plague in and near Badlands National Park, South Dakota and Lassen Volcanic National Park, California. Specifically, we are evaluating the status of plague in the ecosystems and testing a variety of tools for plague mitigation.


We seek technicians for highly collaborative field work in a positive work environment. Field technicians will capture, mark, and process mammals, including mice, voles, prairie dogs and black-footed ferrets in South Dakota (grassland) and mice, voles, chipmunks, ground squirrels and American pikas in California (montane). Field technicians will also count and collect ectoparasites. Field work in South Dakota will also include translocation of prairie dogs to previously occupied habitat to expand their populations.


Field work will occur from late May through October 2022 (the timing and duration of field work differs for South Dakota and California). Workdays may exceed 8 hours in some or many cases. Hours and workdays will change depending on temperature, weather, and capture rates. In some cases, the terrain is uneven and requires being able to maneuver with equipment over rocks, logs, and thorny vegetation. Temperatures may fluctuate from below freezing to over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Technicians should be comfortable working during day and/or night.


Shared housing is typically provided (living trailers) and field travel is completed using government vehicles. Each volunteer technician receives a stipend for each day of work.  All participants will gain experience using multiple types of Sherman and Tomahawk traps, handling and marking multiple mammal species, anesthetizing individuals, combing ectoparasites, and (in some cases) vaccinating individuals against plague.




Work day stipend (TBD)




Required Qualifications: 

  • Have a positive attitude and a commitment to wildlife conservation. Follow field safety and sampling protocols. Work under harsh conditions (hot/cold weather, rough terrain, etc.). Work independently and in groups. Pay attention to detail and record data carefully.


Desired Qualifications:

  • Prior field experience. Experience living or working remotely. Experience handling wildlife. Commitment to the entire field season. Previous experience driving a four-wheel drive vehicle in field settings. Experience with Microsoft Excel.


Submission and Review of Applications


Applications will be reviewed as they are received. Positions will remain open until they are filled. Please submit application materials to David Eads ( Please submit a brief cover letter/Email, your CV/resume, a list of 3 references, and (if possible and applicable) unofficial college transcripts. Please include the following information in your cover letter: dates of availability, interest in volunteer and/or higher-level position, a description of why you are interested in the position(s), and any further information that may speak to your qualifications as outlined in the announcement. Please write your first and last name and “Plague Field Technician Application” in the subject line.



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